Board of Visitor's Personalized Cancer Research Program

The Center for Cancer and Immunology Research (CCIR) was very fortunate to receive a $600,000 grant from our Board of Visitors (BOV). Drs. Zheng and Liu develop an infrastructure for research on new cancer therapies that are tailored for our patients undergoing cancer treatment at Children’s National. This infrastructure has provided us with the capacity to obtain cancer and normal tissue samples from each of the children seen in our pediatric oncology center, to isolate genetic materials for analysis, and to perform gene sequencing. Traditionally, cancer treatment regimens have been selected based on broadly identified types of cancer or based on the location of the cancer cells, i.e. within an organ or tissue types. However, it is now realized that broad cancer groups are composed of smaller subsets with distinct genetic signatures. It is increasingly important to treat childhood cancer patients based on the molecular alterations found within an individual cancer. At the same time, it is increasingly clear that for the current drugs that are given to patients, both efficacy and adverse effects will be affected by individual’s genetic makeup. Many studies have revealed that genetic polymorphisms of normal tissues affect how quickly drugs are metabolized into active forms, where they are distributed in the body, and to what extent they produce toxic byproducts. By using the new sequencing technology, Dr. Dome and his colleagues will identify many individualized genetic changes and test experimentally how these changes may affect drug metabolism. This information will be used to adjust the drug dosing to ensure optimal therapeutic effect with minimal toxicity.

With the development of a novel leukemia model in the Drosophila, Dr. Han has will develop a personalized Drosophila cancer model in which the driver mutations in cancer patients will be used to establish a cancer model. Because of its rapid cancer progression, this model can be used to test the drug response and resistance of the cancer developed in the model system, and screen for all existing drug for their potential therapeutic benefit for the specific cancer.

Investigators involved in this program: